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Kermit and friends bring festive cheer to young and old in this classic musical film


BWW Review: THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL IN CONCERT, Royal Albert Hall "Leave comedy to the bears, Ebenezer!" Back in 1992, the idea that the Muppets could do a passable version of Charles Dickens' classic novella may have been a stretch of the imagination for some, but fast forward to 2021 and it's a tradition for many; "I didn't realise this many people liked the Muppets!", squealed a young girl to her father as she made her way to her seat.

I'd imagine this was the first time some of the children in the audience had seen the film, which must be the most magical of experiences - to hear Kermit making pre-show announcements, and then watch the famous puppets in action with the music being played in the same room, is a truly joyous thing. The Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra was there to perform the score and songs (written by Miles Goodman and Paul Williams, respectively), and there was the added bonus of a choir to provide more depth to the group numbers.

It's not difficult to understand the enduring appeal of this film. For starters, it's about as faithful to the source material as a 90-minute family film can be; it hits all the emotional notes as Scrooge goes on his transformational journey, paying particular attention to Belle, Tiny Tim and the graveyard, whilst also remembering the inspiration behind Dickens' novella - the glimpse of Bean Bunny shivering under some newspapers on Christmas Eve night is heartbreaking. That it seamlessly incorporates the regular characters and typical Muppet wackiness is part of its genius.

Famously, Michael Caine said that he decided to play the role of Ebenezer Scrooge completely straight, and as if there weren't any puppets at all - this is exactly what was needed, as a certain amount of seriousness needed to be maintained in order to make the story believable. Had he really hammed it up, his performance wouldn't have been nearly as effective.

One of the thrills of incorporating a live performance aspect is the audience reaction to certain scenes. Miss Piggy's appearance on screen was akin to a star actor stepping onto a Broadway stage, the relief at Tiny Tim's fate was palpable, and the excitement that "When Love Is Gone" had been included in this particular screening touched everyone in the room.

It's a shame that so many patrons decided to disregard the 'no filming' policy (announced by Kermit himself) - partly because the bright screen lights are always distracting to others, but also because it meant they missed out on the complete live experience. The orchestra's performance was absolutely spot on; it sounded exactly like the score when you watch the film at home, with that extra touch of live music magic - this is the whole point of the show, and something that simply cannot be captured on a camera.

Aside from this, however, this event was exactly what was needed to get people into the Christmas spirit. A couple of hours watching a Muppet caper in the beautiful surroundings of the Royal Albert Hall was the ultimate festive escapism for all in attendance.

The Muppet Christmas Carol in Concert was at the Royal Albert Hall on 11 December

Picture credit: Disney

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From This Author - Debbie Gilpin